Train your Parakeet to Talk

Edited by Debbie, Graeme, Laurel Waddell, Nerissa Avisado and 7 others

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Did you know that you can train your parakeet to talk? That's right, these small birds can learn speech nearly as well as the larger members of the parrot family.

Many people are familiar with the colorful little birds called parakeets, or "budgies." These birds are very intelligent and playful, and can be taught to do tricks. Many parakeets will also pick up sounds and words and repeat them.

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Some budgies need some patience and encouragement, while others may naturally learn without much work on your end. You may one day hear your telephone ringing, only to realize that there's no one on the other end other than a playful parakeet mimicking the phone ring. Or your parakeet may never talk no matter how hard you try. How easy or difficult teaching your parakeet to talk will be depends largely on his personality.

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Before you start teaching your budgie to talk, you will want to have it hand-tamed and comfortable around you. It also helps if you have only one parakeet (once they find a mate, they have eyes only for each other! You will just be that awkward third wheel and that's never fun). Male parakeets are also more vocal, so you might have a better chance of getting them to talk.

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That's enough chatter - let's teach your parakeet to talk!

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Training Tips

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  1. 1
    Be patient
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    It can take a while before a parakeet says its first word.
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  2. 2
    Repetition is key
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    Start the training process by going up to the cage and just saying "hello" - or whatever word or phrase you want your parakeet to learn. Repeat this word every time you're near the cage.
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  3. 3
    Start small
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    Only teach one or two words at a time. Too many words at a time may confuse your parakeet, or not be picked up as readily.
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  4. 4
    Start easy
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    Small words like hello, goodnight, or even hi are good places to start.
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  5. 5
    Reward progress
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    Give your Budgie a treat when he does try to talk. Budgies enjoy millet, but your bird may also like healthier treats like apple slices or broccoli. Find out what your budgie's favorite treat is - a yummy treat is a great motivator.
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Gain Trust before you Train

It's difficult to train a bird properly unless you gain its trust first. Birds may not be as openly affectionate as dogs and cats, but they also form a strong bond that can only be forged through trust and a lovingly crafted relationship.

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Here are some tips for earning your bird's trust:

  1. 1
    Allow them to get into the groove
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    Make your bird comfortable with his new environment. This is the first thing you do when you bring him to your home. Just like with people, you need to make a good "first impression" so you have a better chance to develop a bond during your initial encounter.
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  2. 2
    Be there for the bird when it needs you
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    Naturally, it will not feel at ease the first time it steps into a new environment. This is your chance to be there for it. Don't just leave your bird alone all day - interact with it, make sure it's fed and comfortable, and just spend some time near the cage when you can. You can't expect to get results right away. This takes time, so be patient.
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  3. 3
    Take time to know your bird
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    Be a keen observer as soon as you put it in its cage. Closely observe the things it likes doing, its key characteristics and its unique behaviors. Also try finding out the things it doesn't like, or things that agitates or frightens it. You may notice, for instance, that your parakeet is uncomfortable with you too close to the cage. Take your cue and keep a comfortable distance. Decrease this distance little by little until your bird doesn't mind you being near it.
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  4. 4
    Give it time to adjust
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    Your parakeet may become easily overwhelmed if you introduce it to other people and animals immediately. Try doing this gradually. Introduce one animal or person at a time so it will have a chance to get used to them. Even if you think your pet cats or dogs are friendly, the birds may be frightened and panic around them.
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  5. 5
    Provide it with some alone time
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    Allow your bird some time to be alone. Let it play and give it a pleasant and happy environment, where it will not just merely exist, but will truly live and thrive as well. The happier your bird is, the easier it will be for you to bond with and train it.
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Provide the Right Nutrition

The importance of good nutrition for your pet bird cannot be over-emphasized. Just like people and other animals, you cannot expect your bird to be at its training best unless it's being fed well and provided with balanced nutrition.

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Know that giving a bird water and seeds is simply not enough. Not only do you need to give it nutritious food, but you also have to make sure that the food is safe and tasty. It's recommended that you give birds about 1% treats, seed and calcium, 5% meat and dairy, 45% fruits and veggies, and the highest percentage is the grain products, constituting 50%.

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Here is an example of some of the best foods you may want to try:

  1. 1
    Whole Grains
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    These will give your bird the much needed proteins and carbs, vitamins and minerals. There are numerous products available on the market that you can choose from; just make sure you're getting whole grain, not white. Low-salt bagels, tortillas, berries, and low-salt crackers are recommended.
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  2. 2
    Pellets
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    Pellets are made using combinations of different healthy ingredients. They come in different sizes, shapes, flavors, and colors. This provides your bird a more balanced nutritional diet and is easier to serve. Although this is now the primary base diet for a lot of pet birds, this must not be offered as the only food source.
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  3. 3
    Diet Mixes
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    There are now parakeet food mixes that are widely available. These may include, dried fruits and veggies, seeds, whole grains, nuts, and so on. Diet mixes are great if you don't have the luxury of time for planning and giving your pet bird fresh diet regularly. Just don't forget to give them healthy pellets and fresh food as well.
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  4. 4
    Vegetables
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    These are another crucial part of your pet bird's diet. You can cook veggies for your bird or serve them raw. Wash them thoroughly and cut into bite size pieces. If you're using frozen, canned, or cooked vegetables, read the package to make sure they don't have added salt in them.
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  5. 5
    Fruits
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    Fruits are a good treat but they are high in sugar and contain more water than veggies, so your bird droppings may be a lot more runny than expected.
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How to Keep a Strong Bond with your Bird

Just because you have gained trust with your bird doesn't mean you can never lose it - you can. So here are some tips you can use to make sure the bond between you two remains strong and intact:

  • Provide a chance to exercise. Just like people and other animals, your pet bird will deteriorate mentally and physically without exercise, so make sure your parakeet gets lots of exercise.
  • Give it treats. Learn what your bird's favorite treat is and give it as a reward for good behavior or when it perfects a certain trick. This will give your bird something to look forward to. (Do not let your bird overeat treats! Keep his meals balanced).
  • Spend time with it. It doesn't have to be long hours, just make sure you do it regularly each and every day to make it feel loved and valued. When a bird feels you're truly giving it importance, this gesture is likely to be reciprocated.

Additional Notes

Learning how to train your parakeet to talk is not easy. They need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for the task at hand. Again, the best way you can do this is to gain its trust first, maintain a strong bond, and be there for it every time it needs you. Do all these things right, and things may be easier than you expect. Good luck!

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Questions and Answers

If your parakeet hates you, how do you make it love you?

My parakeet will only let me pick her up, and if I pick her up she bites me and I need your help to train her.

Parakeets and other small birds do not respond well to being picked up forcefully. To get your parakeet to enjoy your company, you will first need to earn her trust. The first thing you should do is stop trying to pick her up! It seems counter-intuitive but your bird needs to be allowed to interact with you on her terms. This will take time and lots and lots of patience.

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To earn your bird's trust, you'll need to slowly move up from simply getting him to tolerate your presence outside the cage, to accepting your hand inside the cage, and eventually to letting him use you as a perch. Once you've reached the point when your parakeet confidently steps onto your finger when you reach into its cage, you will have successfully tamed - and befriended - your bird.

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There is a step-by-step guide on how to tame small birds like parakeets right here: How to Hand-Tame Your Small Bird

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.

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Categories : Birds

Recent edits by: Grimm, Doug Collins, Yuliya

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